Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Emanuel Tanay - March 16, 1987

Formation of Ghetto in Miechow

Um, when the ghetto was formed in Miechow, was it in Miechow?

Yes. The ghetto was formed in Miechow. A number of streets were designated as that's where the Jews will live. So, we had to move from our home into uh, another home, which was still relatively nice since again, as I mentioned before, my parents were dentists, they had German patients. That is, there were only at that time, I don't think there was any other dentists in town, than my parents. I think they might have brought in someone, somebody else, but I'm not sure. My parents were the only dentists, so the Germans also would come in, even into the ghetto to have their teeth worked upon by my parents. For example, the chief of the Gestapo, a dreadful type of a character who everyone was terrified of, would come in and have his teeth worked upon by my parents, which meant that we had to have, my parents had an office and sort of larger quarters than most people.

How old were you when the ghetto was formed?

I would have, I was 14. I was 14 when the ghetto was formed. You see, again when you ask about dates, you know I have given great deal of thought to reconstruction of these events and it's very difficult to pinpoint exactly the dates, but it occurred in 1942, which I would have been 14 years old.

Do you remember how it felt as a 14-year-old having to leave your home?

You know the amazing thing is that life goes on particularly for, for, for children, even under those dreadful circumstances. You know, I do recall that my friends and I would play in the ghetto and uh, you know there were certain activities that were exciting. Adventuresome even. You see, it's not all... uh, there was socializing activities too. Life went on even though it seems all so dreadful. But people played, people even got married, at first, and had children and so on. Life went on.

When you um, what did you take with you when you left, did you take anything?

When we moved, we took most of our belongings, again I, in our case it was a little different, because we moved into smaller, but quite comparable quarters. Now many other families, people would move one family in one small room or maybe two families in one small room, you see. Uh, maybe an apartment would be divided between two or three families, so that was pretty, pretty difficult. You see Miechow, which was a small town, was a county seat. Now there was some other small towns where Jews, where there were no ghettos. Those Jews were brought into Miechow, so you had this small ghetto which, incidentally at first there was nothing that separated it from the rest of town. You just simply, they said, Jews have to live in these streets. Once you were there, suddenly one day they put up walls separating the ghetto from the rest. But they didn't do it right away.

Brick walls, or?

Brick walls. They built, they built a brick wall, large brick wall with a small gate that opened up and the ghetto was completely cut off from the rest of town. But, they didn't say you couldn't leave it. You could leave, you couldn't leave it after 6:00, there was a curfew, but up to a certain point, you could just walk into town and walk and so on. Then there came another measure. Jews could not leave the ghetto at all except by special permit, okay? So again I'm stressing that incremental nature of all these measures. It wasn't a sudden type of, it all was dumped upon us. It was done in a very slow fashion.

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